Interested in a graduate job in accounting? Accountancy isn’t just about number-crunching – you also need to be able to see the big picture when it comes to the future direction of a business. You will help companies of all sizes, from one-person businesses to multinational corporations and charities, manage their finances and comply with legislation. But what is a graduate career in accounting really like? Read on to find out the top five things you need to know before you start filling in that application form…

1. You will probably spend quite a lot of time away from home if you go into an audit role, especially if you work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms (KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young). There’s lots of driving and nights away from home at client sites, so you’ll need to develop a certain fondness for hotels, motorway service stations and fast food. If the thought of this brings you out in a cold sweat, the good news is that tax roles tend to be much more office-based.

2. There are three main paths that a graduate accountancy trainee might take after finishing university. Perhaps the best-known route is to train within an accountancy firm (such as the Big 4 or a smaller firm), providing a consultancy-based service to clients. However, you can also train within the finance department of a public sector organisation or a commercial business. Which brings us to…

3. Qualifications! One of the best reasons to get a graduate job in accounting is the training on offer, as it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your working life. And best of all, it’s usually funded by the company. You might also get paid time off to study. The qualification you study for will depend on the organisation you’re training with and the area you want to work in. If you’ve working with an accountancy firm, you’ll probably study the ACA or the ACCA – the former probably has the edge in terms of prestige, but the latter is often said to have more international recognition. If you’re studying within a business to become a management accountant, you’ll take the CIMA exams. Public sector accountancy trainees will study for CIPFA (in case it’s eluded you thus far, accountancy is a profession littered with confusing acronyms – so brush up!)


4. Entry to the profession is fairly stringent – you’ll usually need at least a 2.1 for the bigger firms. However, there are lots of routes, including those aimed at school leavers, so a degree isn’t a prerequisite. A good tip for aspiring accountants at all stages of their education is to get as much work experience as you can, whether it’s in a high-street firm or on a vacation placement with one of the Big 4. All relevant experience is good experience when it comes to getting your first accountancy job.



5. One of the most valuable things you’ll learn as an accountant working with clients is how to relate to different people and businesses – it’s a great way to make contacts across a wide range of areas. Plus, it’s interesting! If you enjoy finding out how things work and thrive on variety, you’ll probably enjoy working with external clients. One client might give you a plush, peaceful working area with a comfy chair and coffee on tap, while a small business might be tight for desk space and have you working in a meeting room or even in a warehouse. Even if you’re in-house, you’ll still be expected to be adaptable and flexible, as you may still need to visit different business sites.

So there you have it! If you're keen to find out more about graduate jobs in accounting and financial services, click here.

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